Basket Ball

Women In Sports: What You Didn’t Know About Sylvia ‘Balotelli’ Nakazibwe

Sylvia Nakazibwe is one of the few sportswomen in the country that makes ‘This is a man’s world’ statement utterly wrong.

Nakazibwe, known by many as Balotelli, is very industrious, determined, humble but a star.

Her lifestyle especially off the pitch has drawn divided opinion but she has never been bothered, not even for a second.

Away from Sports, Nakazibwe is passionate about leadership and human rights. She is a social justice activist who has pursed trainings and studies in human rights and leadership.

Sylvia Nakazibwe (yellow)

Growing up, she always wanted to be better than boys and this encouraged her to work hard.

Brought up in Makindye, she once wanted to play basketball in vacation and she landed on a court at Sharing (Nsambya) where the only option was to play with the boys.

She was very young then So she had to come early and play with the younger boys and after sit and watch the big boys play.

One day, she saw a girl (jay) play with the big boys and from then on, strived to have a chance to play with the big boys.

Unique lifestyle

Nakazibwe, who currently stays in Ntinda, is very open when asked to speak about her love life.

She claims to be the luckiest person as she has dated people with good hearts, loving and caring.

She works for Tranz Network Uganda, an NGO that coordinates and collaborates transgender and gender non confirming organisations in Uganda where she is the Communication Advocacy and Networking officer.


She, born on August 23 – 1993, is the first born in a family that also has two sisters a d one brother.

Brought up in Makindye, Nakazibwe studied at Buganda road and Lubiri SS before joining Makerere University where she graduated with a Bachelors in Development studies (second class upper) in 2015.

Her Sports story is very unique. She has represented Uganda in two disciplines – The Crested Cranes (Football) and Gazelles (Basketball).

Nakazibwe (middle) in national colours for the Uganda women team

“I grew up mostly around boys,” Nakazibwe narrates her story to “So, I started playing football as early as primary three. I joined the school team for netball in my primary five and dropped it in my senior one when I joined Lubiri SS.”

“I decided to take on football because it’s something I am really talented at. I joined the girls football team and basketball team in 2007. I tried Athletics in school and at one point was on the school volleyball team!”

She was the assistant sports prefect in Lubiri from 2008 to 2009 and head sports prefect 2010 to 2011.

At MUK, she was on both the university football and basketball team. In 2013 she was the University’s sports woman of the year.

She joined and played for the Crested Cranes (Uganda Women national football team) from 2009 to 2014.

Nakazibwe (front row, 2nd from right) playing for Uganda

She played for Makerere University team and later joined She Cooperates after university.

“I put a stop to playing football because of the timing in both the sports and my work, this made me zero down to one sport – Basketball,” she reveals.

She started playing competitive basketball in the league in 2010 with Crane high school but came to prominence with A1 Challenge in 2011. She also played for Javon Ladies joining KCCA Ladies where she has been since 2017.

Notably, she has played for the Gazelles (Uganda National basketball team since 2014).

Up Close

Why The Name Balotelli?

I have had many nicknames in my career, as a footballer they used to call me ‘Man U’ and that’s what they called me and for all years in high school because I was a very big time supporter and fan of Manchester untied.

Baloteli came about when I joined A1 challenge in my second year by then I remembered balotelli was among those fast and always talked about players in Premier league and I was that very fast players still fresh from highschool and jokingly Tom called me balotelli and since many people didn’t know my real name. They started calling me Balotelli and that is how it came about.

Your Best Five:
Cynthia Irakunda, Brenda Ekone, Sarah Ageno, Hope Akullo, Martha Soigi.

Best and Worst Moments as a player
Best moment is when we won the the afro basketball qualifiers in 2015.

My worst moment was I think playoffs of 2014 when they gave me a technical foul for something stupid and this costed my team a chance to battle for a place in the finals.

Craziest Thing You Have Done?
I once faked a heart pain for me to go home because I didn’t want to be in boarding school in my O level and the plan didn’t work because my dad just brought the meds at school.

How Do You Think Women Basketball Can Be Improved in Uganda?

I think FUBA should invest more time and money in primary school basketball and encourage these schools to have a girls basketball program.

FUBA should also have a kids league This will help identify talent but also groom kids to do the right thing because it’s hard to teach the right behavior and best ways of doing things to grown up.

They Need to train women coaches or give some opportunities to women coaches to coach men’s teams this will inspire young girls to delegate their time to basketball because then there is equal opportunities for all even after playing you can coach any team.

Team You Support In NBA:
I don’t support any team in the NBA, though I have players i like and support.

I support WNBA Phoenix Mercury is my team.

Best food – fast foods then matooke and chicken or peas.

Best friend – Ruth Atuheire (Basketball player with A1 Challenge)

Dream Car – none!


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Brian Kawalya

Brian Kawalya

Chief Sports Writer
Brian Kawalya is an Award winning Journalist, Director and Chief Sports Writer of The-SportsNation, covering top events and breaking some of the biggest stories.
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